I've lost count of the number of times I've heard the same old conversation around enterprise social and it goes something like this - "I know we should have a corporate social network, but the board doesn't see the value of an internal Facebook." The fact is, this statement is incorrect. Corporate social networking isn't about giving employees Facebook - it’s much deeper and much more influential than that.
Facebook would satisfy some common business requirements:
- Corporate messaging
- On boarding
- Social initiatives
These are all important for a healthy organisation but they don't really drive efficiencies or solve operational problems that impact the bottom or top lines, thus generating ROI.
The Big Problem
With businesses becoming ever more geographically dispersed, coupled with mobile workforces and home working, organisations have been forced to embrace technologies that support knowledge management. SharePoint is one such key enabler but this still doesn't completely solve the knowledge management problem. Sure document management tools and processes are cutting down the classic "document management via Outlook" problem, but still conversations get lost and vital knowledge gets archived to the great Inbox graveyard.
This is one of the big operational problems that social is meant to solve, but with a view of your corporate social network as an internal Facebook, you just won’t get the most out of it. That said, it is useful to embrace the social aspect of this as an investment in staff attitude and this will subsequently help drive adoption - people like Facebook and the next generation workforce expects it – but it is also important that the other inherent opportunities for use are not overlooked.
Social Network Governance
Governance and Social Networks aren’t two of the most cohesive terms within an organisation – or are they? Remember Governance isn't all about control, it's also about enabling employees to operate within a structured framework that supports them and the business as a whole. Within a social network it's about providing the appropriate communities, it's about providing tools to tag, share and support content. Tagging content is just a form of delegated digital content curation and curated content can be more easily preserved, maintained and surfaced.
Social At Work
Imagine Ken the sales executive who has a meeting with a manufacturing business. He is looking for a version of a corporate presentation with emphasis on manufacturing. He searches the intranet for "manufacturing corporate presentations." Traditional content management solutions will return the relevant results (SharePoint excels at this) but imagine the power of having relevant conversations returned within the search results alongside traditional content. Ken not only finds the presentation but he also discovers that Andy discussed some intelligence on similar businesses on their Yammer network 3 months ago. Ken can retrieve this information and with it can go on to win the deal. Ok, so it's never that simple, but you get my point I'm sure.
I was recently discussing with a journalist the impact social tools have had on his job. His response - ”transformational.” His industry, like many others, has been forced to adapt to this new form of communication. He now spends more time monitoring feeds from social networks, using tags to filter the content in order to retrieve the most relevant and up to date information. The same concepts can be applied internally within most organisations. Placing feeds within you intranet that roll up tagged content from Yammer for example is an innovative way of broadcasting all types of content to your organisation, whilst keeping the users sticky to the intranet. Examples are, FAQ, idea boards, employee news and praise - the possibilities are endless.
Knowledge Management by Stealth
It's important that organisations embrace social networking as an investment in working attitudes through the use of social, but it has to be an integrated experience which is tightly coupled to the organisations internal portals, that’s where the ROI is to be found. The good news is that the integrations available between the various systems are straightforward and sympathetic to these goals.
Its knowledge management by stealth - implement knowledge management but give them Facebook, enforce Governance but provide them with tools to socialise their digital assets and knowledge. This is the way to get the most out of an enterprise social implementation and is exactly what we here at BrightStarr aim to achieve for all our clients looking to make the most out of enterprise social. If you want to know more about how we approach enterprise social then just reach out. We love to talk about our work.